2019 Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects Chat

Image credit: Victor Robles (Photo by Tom DiPace)

To see the Nationals top 10 prospects, click here. 

Carlos Collazo: How’s it going everyone? Thanks for stopping by for today’s Nationals chat. I’m very close to finishing the entire top 30 for the system, but more than happy to take a break here and answer any and all questions you might have. If you haven’t yet submitted a question go for it!

Tim (Baltimore, MD): 

    Hey Carlos, thanks for doing the chat! the more I read about Luis Garcia, the more excited I get. What do you think his mlb projection and upside is, especially from the offensive perspective? I know MLB comps are always hard, especially when he is still so young, but is there an MLB player he reminds you or scouts of or has drawn comparisons to?

Carlos Collazo: Thanks for the question Tim. It makes sense to start out with Garcia, who might be the most exciting player in the farm for the Nationals right now, given that most people know what Robles is capable of at this point. He might be the best hitter in the system now that Soto has graduated, and you wouldn’t have to search around too much to find people who put 70/60 on his hit/power tools. I’m a little more conservative than that presently but he has tremendous aptitude in the batter’s box and makes adjustments incredibly well, particularly given his age relative to the league, as you mentioned. I’m not big on comps in general, but I was responsible for our Appy League list and Garcia reminded me a lot of Wander Franco in many ways.

Luis Garcia (Next Great Nats Prospect?): 

    That Nationals have recently been known for elite international prospect talent (e.g. Robles/Soto); am I in line as the next great prospect? I’ve filled quite a bit over the past year. Do I still have more physical projection left? I was once thought to have 45 power, do you see that ticking up to 55 now? With my aptitude for hitting, positional value, and youth vs. level, if my power does become above-average, aren’t those the makings of a future top 20 prospect?

Carlos Collazo: Let’s keep rolling with Garcia while we’re at it. The Nationals have done a tremendous job on the international front. That’s a credit to Washington’s VP of International Ops, Johnny DiPuglia, and the rest of his team as well as player Player Development Director Mark Scialabba and his group. I think there’s still room for more physical projection and you nailed the grades. Last year at this time we had Garcia as a below-average power bat but a much better runner. Now I’ve got the power at a 55 and the run a 55 as well. I’ll take that trade off. I’d agree with your last point as well. If Garcia keeps up this sort of hitting and advances up the minors he’s going to have a lot more people talking.

Brandon (Albuquerque): 

    What will we be looking at for peak years’ Robles? .300/.350/.475 20 hr 40 sb?

Carlos Collazo: That doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. He’s a great player.

Grant (Queens, NY): 

    Where would Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez have ranked before they were dealt?

Carlos Collazo: Rodriguez has actually graduated from prospect status with his 52 major league innings last year. I had him in the back of the top 10 on our midseason update and he might have been in that 8-14 range if he were still with the club and qualified. I had Johnson slotted into the No. 6 spot ahead of Cate and Romero prior to the trade. He made some good adjustments this year, particularly on the defensive end. Sucks to see him get hampered with injuries.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    How many of these guys are likely to make the BA 100 list?

Carlos Collazo: Robles, Kieboom and Garcia are on that list now and will be there on the updated list. I think Denaburg is a guy who could crack the back end of the 100 at some point next year if he is fully healthy and performs.

Harrison (RR, TX): 

    Where do you believe this system ranks, and how much hope is there for Jackson Teterault?

Carlos Collazo: This is my second year doing the Nationals for the handbook. Last year they ranked 15, while the year before they ranked 19. If Soto hadn’t sprinted to the majors and Johnson was still around I think you’re looking at a 10-15 system, but with his graduation and Johnson’s trade I think it’s more like a 15-25 system. I’d lean closer to the higher end of that range if it were me. It’s tough because there are some extremely exciting talents at the top of this list, though it drops off quite a bit after the top 10. There is a lot of pitching depth to like throughout the system and even down to 30, but it consists of a lot of guys who have questions or need to take significant steps forward.

Carlos Collazo: I forgot to touch on Tetreault in that last comment. He made some nice adjustments this season in both repeating his delivery and throwing more strikes. His BB/9 going from 3.8 in 2017 to 2.8 this year is definitely encouraging and his changeup also took a big step forward. The Nationals probably want him to continue filling out (he’s still pretty skinny) and getting stronger. He spins the curveball well but could also improve the consistency of that pitch and land it for strikes more than he did this year.

Eric (Detroit, MI): 

    Who are you higher on behind the dish between Read, Barrera and Pineda? How about in front of it?

Carlos Collazo: Behind the dish Barrera for sure. We have him as the best defensive catcher in the system. Scouts and Nationals execs rave about his defensive tools and polish. The dude threw out half of baserunners in the Carolina League this year. He’s got really quiet hands and a terrific exchange. Kyle Glaser actually saw him in person and was impressed with how accurate his throws were to second base. I think Pineda has the most offensive upside of the trio; he’s got good bat-to-ball skills. Read is pretty solid all-around.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    Thanks for chatting, Carlos. How bullish are you on Telmito Agustin, and how likely is it he’ll stay at short?

Carlos Collazo: Less bullish than you if you think he’s a shortstop. Agustin is an outfielder and has never played the infield, let alone short. That said he was having a really strong year and figured out how to leverage the baseball more consistently before he got hurt and missed some time. I’d really love to see what he can do with a full season and good health—he’s battled a bunch of small injuries over the last few years.

Eric (Oakland, CA): 

    What can you tell us about James Bourque, and will we see him in the top 30?

Carlos Collazo: You will definitely see him in the top 30. If you guys haven’t, you can pre-order the Prospect Handbook from our site now and get it in February of next year for the exact spot and full scouting report: https://store.baseballamerica.com/products/2019-baseball-america-prospect-handbook. Outside of the sales pitch, Bourque found success this year after moving to the bullpen, which helped to minimize his control issues. He’s got a really exciting fastball/power curve combination that I think could play very well in a major league bullpen if he continues to improve the strike throwing.

Anthony (Boston): 

    Hey Carlos, curious if there’s anything to like about Armond Upshaw? Any chance he hits enough to be a fourth outfielder?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah, he’s a an above-average runner with a solid throwing arm. Still, he’s hit just .222/.332/.281 over his minor league career without getting further than the South Atlantic League. This year, while older than the league average, he hit just .234/.317/.292 with Class A Hagerstown and struck out in 31 percent of his PAs. I’m skeptical there’s room for a fourth outfielder who’s a speed/defense guy with no bat on a 25-man roster in today’s game—especially in the national league on a contender. You have to hit. Upshaw has a ways to go there.

Ashley (phoenix): 

    Will Kieboom be a 60 hit/60 power player in the majors?

Carlos Collazo: That’s what we currently have him as. Great call!

Matt (Va): 

    Where does Mason Densburg start the 2019 season? And do the Nats have any more players like Luis Garcia coming up?

Carlos Collazo: I would guess the GCL or the New York Penn League. Probably the former since he didn’t throw any this summer and was dealing with a biceps injury throughout the spring. None to that caliber, though Yasel Antuna and Jose Sanchez will likely continue to be compared to him because they were signed in the same draft class and are shortstops. I like Garcia quite a bit more than both.

Miles (Iowa): 

    Israel Pineda had a solid year in the NYPL at 18. Is he a potential breakout canditate at Low-A next year? Any chance he sticks as a catcher?

Carlos Collazo: Touched on Pineda a little bit earlier, but I think he definitely could be. He’s very young, should get more physical, has great makeup and energy and also has arm strength. He’ll need to refine his defensive work like pretty much every catching prospect in the world but there’s nothing right now tells me he won’t be able to handle the position in the future. He’s thrown out 40%+ baserunners in 2017 and 2018. That’s fun.

LS (Arlington, VA): 

    Nats fans have been fortunate to see these high-level guys come through the system over the past decade–Stras, Harper, Rendon, Giolito (though the talent hasn’t materialized in the big leagues yet), Robles, Soto and now Kieboom. Once Robles and Kieboom graduate, it seems like there is finally going to be a bit of a void–maybe for the first time since the late 2000’s. Outside of Garcia and Denaberg, are there any toolsy guys in the lower levels that could eventually end up on Top 100 lists?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah that is the concern with this system. Prior to the Indians trade I would have said that Daniel Johnson fits that description well. He’s certainly toolsy. Outside of that, Antuna is your guy and he’s got his TJ to worry about now and isn’t that sort of hitter just yet. Nationals would either need a breakout from the Agustin/Pineda/Cannings of the farm or to hit on someone in a strong draft for hitters in 2019.

Andrew (Boston): 

    What’s the prognosis on the relief prospects in this system? James Bourque is the name everyone knows, but what about guys like Taylor Guilbeau, Ben Braymer, and Carlos Acevedo?

Carlos Collazo: There are a ton of them. Bourque is one of the most exciting but recently drafted RHP Reid Schaller is probably going to rank ahead of him on the 30. He’s been starting but I expect he’ll move into a bullpen role in the future. Braymer had a terrific year and was the org’s co-pitcher of the year. People spoke highly about his slider. He could fill a multi-inning relief role potentially. Acevedo gets a lot of groundballs with a sinker/slider combo and throws strikes but he got hit around a little bit. Washington lowered Guilbeau’s arm slot this year and that seemed to work for him. He’s got a solid fastball and the slider flashes at times. Beyond that you have guys like Raquet, Tetreault, Johnston, Adon, Ronald and Malvin Pena, Alastre and Klobosits who could wind up providing major league value in some way with improvements, health or both. There’s a lot of depth here in the back of the system. Last year Jefry Rodriguez ranked 24 in the system and seemed a long way from the majors before throwing 50 innings and being used in a useful trade.

Jacob (Alexandria): 

    Where do Reid Schaller and Nick Raquet end up — the rotation or relief?

Carlos Collazo: I would guess both wind up in relief and would probably give Raquet a better chance to start between the two of them if I had to pick one. Both have been used as starters exclusively so far with the Nationals, but have good track records in the bullpen in college.

Liam (Arizona): 

    What’s your thoughts on Sterling Sharp?

Carlos Collazo: Really like the upside potential with Sharp, if that wasn’t made clear by ranking him inside the top 10. He’s immensely athletic—tabbed as the best athlete in the system—and that translates to great strikethrowing ability. He’s got a career BB/9 of 2.3. I want to see more out of his slider going forward. He’s never been a big strikeout guy which is a concern.

Carlos Collazo: Alright everyone, thanks for the questions! I’ve got to get back to writing. About five more reports and the Nationals chapter should be complete and sent off to editors so they can make it legible for all of you to read next February! Appreciate you all hanging out, feel free to tweet me @CarlosACollazo if you have anything else you want to ask about.

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